Jo Hye Jung faces controversy over casting as Yoo Seung Ho's love interest in Imaginary Cat
Because It's the First Time actress Jo Hye Jung landed a coveted role opposite Yoo Seung Ho in the upcoming MBC Every1 series Imaginary Cat, but now the rookie actress is facing criticism from netizens who believe her casting had more to do with family connections than talent.
The 23-year-old actress is the daughter of veteran actor Jo Jae Hyun (Punch). She was struggling as an actress until she appeared with her father on the reality show Take Care of My Dad. Suddenly, she was able to catch a leading role opposite one of K-drama's hottest young actors after only appearing in supporting roles in God's Quiz: Season 4 and the currently airing Because It's the First Time.
Netizens are complaining that it's an unfair advantage to play off of her father's reputation to get roles, but Jo Hye Jung's representatives gave a strong response: "We have found some criticism regarding Jo Hye Jung and her father. It's disappointing to see such biased views. If someone is a bad actor or actress, then he or she deserves to be criticized. However, we haven't even started filming yet, so we hope people will judge the drama for itself."
I can see why the netizens would be suspicious, but if she's good at playing the role, who cares who her father is or isn't?
Imaginary Cat tells the story of Hyun Jong Hyun (Yoo Seung Ho), a stubborn webtoon writer who works in a bookstore and has trouble because of his self-centered nature. His only friend is his cat, Boggil, and together the two of them have a series of experiences that heal his heart.
Jo Hye Jung will play Oh Na Woo, a tenderhearted character who cares for stray cats after she loses her own pet. She falls for Jong Hyun at first sight and doesn't let his prickly personality deter her from declaring her feelings.
Considering that her character in Because It's the First Time is also caring and considerate, this role actually seems like a good fit for her. The short series is also airing on a smaller cable network, so it's a good place for a newer actress to test out a lead role. Some people were surprised to hear that Yoo Seung Ho agreed to the low-key series, but he said he wanted to do the project to help other people feel his love of cats, which is pretty much the most adorable reason ever, so who can really fault him?
Imaginary Cat is an 8-episode series that will premiere on MBC Every1 next month.
What do you think of this casting and the controversy? Do you think netizens have a right to be upset, or should they wait to see how she handles the role first? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
You can see Jo Hye Jung in her character teaser for Because It's the First Time here:
Of course, teasers are meant to be silly, so if you really want to assess her acting, you can check out the premiere of the series below: